School of Social and Political Science

PhD Research Support Fund


Support is available to doctoral students within the School of Social and Political Science for research activities, via the School of Social and Political Science PhD Research Support Fund.

Please ensure you read all the guidance on this page before submitting your application or expenses claim.

What activities will the Fund support?

The SPS PhD Research Support Fund may cover the following research activities:

  • presenting a paper at a conference
  • costs associated with fieldwork
  • other activities directly related to your research - for example, training workshops covering content not offered internally, contribution to the cost of language training

Applications for books, equipment or attendance at conferences will not be considered.

Students who are in receipt of funding from a sponsoring body which includes a research expenses allowance (e.g. ESRC funded students) are not eligible to apply for this fund. 

Please see your scholarship terms and conditions to check your eligibility for this fund.

PhD Research Support Fund - Application Form

Application deadlines

Applications to this fund are considered in four rounds, the deadlines for the 2021/22  academic session are as follows:

  • 1 August 2021
  • 1 November 2021
  • 1 February 2022
  • 1 May 2022

Late applications can only be considered in the following round of the same financial year.

The outcome will be emailed to applicants within 2 weeks after the closing date.


Applications can be made in advance of the research activity or retrospectively, as long as the award, expenses claim and event all occur within the same financial year (August to July). 

Note that this differs to the academic year (September to August). For example, funding for a conference in August would come from the new year’s allocation as August is the beginning of the University's financial year.

Expenses cannot be claimed unless the award has already been approved.

Applications for books, equipment or attendance at conferences will not be considered.

Once the School’s annual budget limit has been reached, no further applications for that year will be considered.

How to submit your application

Applications should be submitted to the PGR Support team ( no later than the closing date to be considered in that quarterly round.

The completed application form must include:

  • the date or date range of the event
  • details of the event
  • detailed costs
  • a supporting statement from your supervisor

Please ensure all relevant sections are completed. Applications without a supporting statement will not be considered. Late applications can only be considered in the following round of the same financial year.

Please complete a separate form for each activity, unless two elements coincide in time and place, for example conference and fieldwork.

Travel and Risk Assessment


Travel outside of Edinburgh requires submission of the Travel Risk Assessment: TRA1-CV19 form to the Director of PGR Programmes ( at least two weeks prior to the date of travel. You should refer to the Restarting Business Travel flowchart before submission and await risk assessment approval before you travel. The risk assessment should be submitted regardless of whether your funding application is approved.

We recommend you use the University's free travel insurance where applicable.

Research Support Fund Terms

Maximum award values

  • The maximum award for presenting at EU/Overseas conferences or EU/Overseas fieldwork is £500
  • The maximum award for presenting at UK conferences or UK based fieldwork is £300
  • The maximum award for other research costs is £200
  • A total maximum of £500 may be awarded to a successful applicant in any one academic year.


  • If the actual cost is higher than the amount awarded, the applicant will have to fund the excess.
  • Depending on budget constraints it may not always be possible to fund up to the maximum award amount.
  • Approved funding can only be used for the activities in your application or as advised in the approval confirmation. Funding may not be used for other activities.
  • Applicants are expected to have sought funding from any other relevant sources - for example, postgraduate bursaries provided by disciplinary associations - before applying for this fund. Successful awards from other funding sources must be used in place of the Research Support Fund.
  • Once the School's annual budget limit has been reached, no further applications for that year will be considered.
  • Applications must only be requested in GBP currency.
  • The most economic method of travelling should be sought in all cases. Except for exceptional circumstances, only these economic costs will be covered.
  • Applications must be emailed to the PGR Support team ( by the closing date to be considered in that quarterly round. Late applications will be considered in the following round subject to eligibility.
  • If successful applicants no longer intend to undertake the research activity for which they had been awarded funds, they must let the PGR Support team know immediately.
  • Expenses for successful applications should be claimed within one month of the date of activity.
  • If the application is successful, feedback is required to be submitted via the Research Support Fund Post-Activity Report Form when the Expense Claim Form is submitted. Expenses will not usually be reimbursed until the form is received.

Who is the scheme open to?

  • The scheme is open to PhD students in the School of Social and Political Science, except those in receipt of funding from a sponsoring body (for example the ESRC) which includes a research expenses component.
  • For externally funded students, we will request a copy of your scholarship award letter if we do not already have it on file.
  • For conference funding, only students who are presenting a paper are eligible to apply.
  • Normally, only students in Years 1-4 (full-time) or Years 1-7 (part-time) of study are eligible to apply. In exceptional circumstances, your supervisor may make a case to support an application beyond those years and where you have had no more than 3 previously successful applications to the fund.
  • The Research Support Fund may only be used to cover costs where the activity occurs before submission of the PhD thesis. You will NOT be eligible once you have submitted your thesis for examination.
Application procedure

You must complete Part A of the application form then forward to your Supervisor who must complete Part B. You must ensure you complete all relevant sections.

On completion of Part B, your Supervisor should send the form by email to the Graduate School Office (

Application results

Applications are pooled at each round and the decision to authorise the application is made at the discretion of the School Director of Postgraduate Research Programmes and is subject to a statement of support, made by your supervisor.

You will be notified of the outcome by the PGR Support team by email. You should expect to hear within 2 weeks after the application deadline.

Payment of event and how to claim expenses

Payment and arrangement of your event

You will be expected to pay up-front for costs, and then reclaim up to the amount authorised after the research activity has taken place.

You are responsible for making your own travel and accommodation arrangements, and any insurance which you may require.

Within one month of the date of the research activity, an expenses claim form (with receipts) and the Post-Activity Report form must be submitted to the PGR Support team ( 

Or, if you have already attended your event and are awaiting a decision on your funding application, please retain your expenses claim until after the funding decision has been advised.

How to claim expenses

After the research activity, please ensure you submit all of the following to so that your expenses can be processed:

This must be received within one month of the date of the research activity and before the end of the financial year (July) or as advised above. 

Receipts or other proof that you have incurred the named expenditure must be provided, regardless of the price of items. Please see further details on the claim form.

Expenses receipts

Invoices, plane tickets and other tickets that do not include the amount and your name are not acceptable.

Email confirmations, print-outs of bank statements (with confidential information blanked out if you wish), and receipts are all acceptable.

Travel and medical insurance

We recommend that you ensure you have travel/medical insurance cover where required and you should use the University's insurance cover for University business. This is free of charge and, therefore, if you take out private insurance instead, we cannot reimburse this cost to you.

Receiving your expenses

If the Expense Claim Form is completed with bank details, a BACS payment will be made.

If you have not yet provided your bank details or need to amend them, please ensure you action this before submitting your Expense Claim Form. Guidance on how to submit/amend your bank details can be found here.

Our expectation is that all claims will be paid into UK bank accounts. Please note that payments are not made by the PGR Support Team but by the University's Accounts Payable department.

You should expect to receive your expenses 2 to 3 weeks after submitting your Expenses Claim Form.

Student category
PhD Students